Student Profile: Fradah Gold, AMWA's September Essay Contest Winner

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Where did you complete your undergraduate education? What did you study?

I graduated from Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Brooklyn with an Honors Bachelor of Science in Psychology, minoring in Chemistry and Health & Nutrition Sciences.


Specialty/ potential specialty:

I am interested in Ophthalmology, a beautiful synthesis of both medical and surgical care that plays a significant role in quality of life. I find it fascinating how the eyes can provide insight into multiple body systems.


What is your favorite memory at Downstate so far?

One of my favorite memories is studying with friends in the Gross Anatomy lab during various hours of the day – quizzing each other, demonstrating actions of different muscles, and sharing funny mnemonics.


Who is/was your favorite professor at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and why?

In addition to numerous professors who shared their passions for their area of study or practice during lectures, my favorite small-group professors include PBL Medical Knowledge facilitator, Dr. Stephen Carleton, and Histology facilitator, Dr. Eva Cramer. Dr. Carleton infused our PBL discussions with fascinating points throughout the first three units, especially sharing his expertise in Microbiology as COVID19 began during our Immunology block. Dr. Cramer’s wonderful explanations during our first remote Histology sessions in Unit 4 enhanced not only my knowledge of the presentation of various histological slides, but also facilitated my understanding of the mechanisms of several pathologies.


In honor of September’s “Women in Medicine” month, the American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) chapter at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn, N.Y. organized a number of events to celebrate with the student body. These included weekly profiles of pioneering female physicians, a virtual movie night, and an online roundtable with former female surgeons general. In the spirit of this important month, an essay contest was held where students in the College of Medicine were asked to write a short piece about a female physician who has been a role model for their careers and represents the ideals of medicine. Three faculty members served as judges; Dr. Marianna Markell, Senior Associate Dean of Medical Education and Director of Transplant Nephrology; Dr. Christina Pardo, Professor of OBGYN and Director of Division of Health Equity; and Dr. Isabel McFarlane, Rheumatologist and Medicine Clerkship Director. The judges anonymously selected the winning essay, and the student was granted a $100 cash prize.


The AMWA chapter at Downstate is comprised of a five-student e-board. The chapter seeks to host events that promote wellness, inclusivity, and advancement for female trainees. Past events have included resident panels, mentorship dinners, and a yoga and mindfulness session. Currently, a women-in-surgery panel is being planned alongside the Association of Women Surgeons (AWS) club for November.


Check out Fradah's essay below!


Several brilliant women came to mind as I reflected on who has shaped my outlook. Pondering who is one female physician that inspired me to join the field of medicine, I realized that the clear answer was on my phone beside me, my “favorite contact”. Becoming a physician twice, once across the Atlantic Ocean and then again in the US, my mom gracefully exemplifies the pillars that mold effective partnerships with patients and illustrates the beauty of medicine.

Leaving behind a life she was accustomed to, my mom independently moved to NYC. Despite having been a physician, she worked a minimum wage job during the day and spent nights preparing for Step 1. A strenuous undertaking was not new to her, though, having faced obstacles in her earlier years. For instance, although she became valedictorian, she was not allowed to attend medical school as she was “the other” in her community. Instead, she had to do manual labor in a factory until she was given the opportunity to pursue her dream. As my mom’s experiences taught her the virtue of patience and determination, she fought to follow her chosen path, even if this would entail sleepless nights using a dictionary to translate pages, line by line, in order to prepare for the USMLE, all while located miles away from her support system.

Sending hundreds of hand-written applications and joining a research team while volunteering at hospitals, my mom again faced setbacks as she sought to join a residency program. When a family member advised to capitulate her goal of becoming a US licensed physician, these words further fueled my mom to push boundaries. Eventually, my mom became a Geriatrician and later a Medical Director, meanwhile cheering my accomplishments at school events and graduations.

Advocating for the elderly population, my mom relentlessly places her patients’ concerns above her own, even as she grieved when my grandma lost her battle to cancer. Whether attending conferences or reading JAMA articles, my mom demonstrates the importance of being a lifelong learner, uncovering new intricacies of the human body and discovering novel approaches to improve patients’ quality of life. Being an educator and healer for patients in underserved communities for nearly twenty years, my mom’s creative solutions ensure her patients receive timely care, from developing individualized, feasible medication regimens to coordinating necessary specialist care and finding alternatives for proper nutrition, all which became even more vital during COVID-19.

Embarking on the medical school journey myself, I further appreciate the feat my mom accomplished and am thankful for her endless support, being a strong-willed role model and confidant. As I progress into my second year, I grow more fascinated by my mom’s clinical reasoning and inspired by her empathetic character, emphasizing communication with each patient as, foremost, a person. My mom’s arduous journey encourages me to pursue my passion and learn to not only to fight and speak up for myself, but, importantly, for my patients, accentuating the great honor it is to be a physician.

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